PhD student to unlock mysteries of the brain

May 14, 2013

A Murdoch University researcher is investigating how magnetic fields affect brain function in a bid to better understand how to treat depression and pain.

PhD student Ivan Hong is studying the effects of Pulsed Magnetic Fields (PMF), a non-invasive technique used to stimulate the brain.

“PMF uses changing magnetic fields generated by electrical pulses to stimulate a small current in the brain,” he said.

“As it is a very new area of research, there have only been a few studies done on humans, but initial results indicate that PMF can help to treat depression and pain.”

Due to his keen interest in neuroscience and outstanding academic record, Mr Hong was chosen as one of only 10 PhD students and two postdoctoral fellows from across Australia and New Zealand to attend the 2013 Australian Course in Advanced Neuroscience.

The prestigious course, held on Stradbroke Island from April 14 to May 4, has been referred to as ‘neuroscience in paradise’.

It is run annually and attracts only high calibre students.

Senior Lecturer in Physiology and Mr Hong’s research supervisor Dr Sarah Etherington said the intensive training course was carried out in state-of-the-art neuroscience laboratories.

“It is a great credit to Ivan that he was selected to attend the course and to learn from internationally renowned neuroscientists,” she said.

Mr Hong said his interest in neuroscience began when reading about the relationship between anaesthesia and consciousness.

“The more I read the more I learned that what we know about the brain and how it functions is dwarfed by what we don't know,” he said.

His plans for the future involve filling some of the gaps in our current knowledge of neuroscience.

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